Ballina signs off on shop display trial

Christmas shopping in Ballina shire is set to be a little brighter, if not busier, for retailers who will be allowed to display their goods on the footpath outside their shops throughout the festive season. Ballina Shire Council last week adopted a trial footpath display policy to run throughout December and January, allowing retailers to place goods on racks on the footpath to try and boost trade.

The move followed a plea to councillors by Cheryl Baxter, representing the Ballina Retailers Action Group, to allow the displays over the Christmas and school holiday period.

Ms Baxter said outside displays enticed people into stores.

This time of the year is absolutely vital to us. All we are asking is for 60cm of the footpath to put racks out to have something interesting there, she said.

She said many Ballina shopkeepers were doing it tough, paying rents equal to similar CBD areas in Sydney, and allowing the displays would help them pay their bills and restock for next year.

Cr Margaret Howes said retailers would benefit from the new policy as the towns dead and she would like to see it extended.

Cr Howes said that during a visit to Echuca in Victoria she noticed footpath displays were common with cane baskets, knick knacks and other colourful items giving the town a great holiday atmosphere.

Cr John Felsch said Council should stick to a specific trial of the policy too see how it worked because Ive seen whole clothes racks scattered all over town when a big wind comes up it can be bedlam.

But Cr Alan Rich accused some councillors of trying to make policy on the run, describing the change as the biggest turnaround of our signage policy.

He said the move did not take into account the look and amenity of the streetscape or pedestrians, nor was it clear how the public-liability insurance aspect stacks up.

Council general manager John Christopherson said the policy did not apply to alfresco dining or the use of street signs such as A-frames, which were restricted under separate policies.

At the end of the trial Council will consider if the new policy should become permanent.

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